Sergei Loznitsa’s Donbass and the Senses of Provocation

When news broke that Russian forces had launched, on April 8, 2022, a missile attack on the Kramatorsk train station, which was filled with thousands of fleeing women and children at the time, the Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement calling it a “provocation.” The Russian Foreign Ministry took the same line earlier with… Continue reading Sergei Loznitsa’s Donbass and the Senses of Provocation

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Russia’s Special Operation on English

Language learners know about false friends. Slavic languages have some doozies. For instance, riječ in Croatian means a word, while реч in Ukrainian means a thing; запомніць in Bulgarian means to memorize, while zapomenout in Czech means to forget; proud Serbs might write понос (pride) on the side of a building, while their Russian brothers… Continue reading Russia’s Special Operation on English

Teaching Ukrainian Culture as if it were Russian

A former public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine explained to me a few years ago how they were trying to help Ukrainian institutions to train Ukrainians to tell Ukraine’s story to the world, “because,” he said, “at this point wherever you look, Russia is telling Ukraine’s story.” I thought of this comment… Continue reading Teaching Ukrainian Culture as if it were Russian

The South, Russia, and Other Places of Occupation

A friend of mine said the other day that he never really felt he understood the deep-seated tensions of the American South until, during a year he spent as a Fulbright Scholar in Belgrade, a local man commented on his attempts to grasp that country’s deep-seated tensions by noting, “It’s hard to understand when your… Continue reading The South, Russia, and Other Places of Occupation

Big New Book

I’ve just signed a contract to translate a 1000-page novel. It is due to the publisher in May of 2017, so I’ll be working steadily on it for the next couple of years. The publisher (the visionary Archipelago Books) asked for a sample, but I had not read the book, which came out in 2013,… Continue reading Big New Book